WikEd fancyquotesQuotesBug-silkHeadscratchersIcons-mini-icon extensionPlaying WithUseful NotesMagnifierAnalysisPhoto linkImage LinksHaiku-wide-iconHaikuLaconic

Kids, don't try this at home. You'll fall off.

The Rearing Horse is an iconic pose of a horse rearing back so its front hooves are off the ground. It is used in movies because it is so dramatic.

It looks wild, powerful, liberating, and, yes, cool. It ends up appearing in many cowboy movies, historical movies and European coats of arms. In heraldry the pose is referred to as "rampant" and is so popular that it is applied to pretty much any four-legged animal, including lions, wolves, and even mythological creatures like griffins. Technically, in heraldry, a rampant animal will stand on its left hind leg, with the three other legs elevated off the ground. The rearing pose also appears on some equestrian statues, although contrary to popular myth, the horse's pose has no relation to how the rider died.

In real life, it's a Very Bad Thing, and only experienced trainers should even get on a horse with a rearing habit.[1] It is very easy to cause a rearing horse to fall over backwards on top of the rider, which can hurt easily lead to serious injuries or even death.

Often combined with Stab the Sky or Sword Pointing.

Examples of Rearing Horse include:


  • The Ferrari logo
  • The Winchester logo and the Colt, sans rider

Anime and Manga

  • Done in the intro of the Vampire Hunter D : Bloodlust movie, posing in front of the hugeass moon, right after catching an arrow in flight. Just to show how cool and Badass D was. For bonus point it was a cyber horse with horns.
    • And to make it even cooler, his cape flies up to form the shape of a massive pair of bat wings.
  • In Pokémon Special, Platina's just evolved Rapidash strikes this pose after Platina mounts it and declares her intention to protect the three Lake Guardians with Diamond and Pearl despite her father's protests.




  • Black Beauty! It's on the freaking cover!
  • The fourth book of the Song of the Lioness series is called Lioness Rampant, which is also the design the main character has on her shield.
  • Subverted in the novel Sovereign by CJ Sansom. It turns out the protagonist's horse has been delberately injured to make it do this as a murder attempt, and the character thrown off breaks his leg.
  • In Going Postal, Moist Von Lipwig and Boris the horse get themselves splashed all over the front page of the newspaper in this pose.
  • In one of the 1632 side-stories, a Grantville American is leading the defense of Prague (on a borrowed horse) one of the other Americans tells him to do this to inspire his troops. He flat out refuses (being a decent rider, but a 50-odd year old jeweler) he does agree to wave his plumed hat.
  • The coat of arms of Mercedes Lackey's Kingdom of Valdemar is the Windrider, a winged horse rampant with broken chains.
    • Also appears in the original cover art for the Valdemar novel Arrow's Fall, though the "horse" is Talia's Companion, who is more like a guardian angel made flesh.
  • This is a manoeuvre frequently used in Twenty Years After to save the rider.
  • In Time Scout's Wagers of Sin, Skeeter winds up on a horse that rears in protest. He rapidly brings it under control.

Live Action Television

  • The Lone Ranger and his horse, Silver.
  • The horse the cheetah rides in the Doctor Who episode "Survival". Yes, the horse the cheetah rides. Note: During filming, the stunt man couldn't get the horse to rear, or do anything else, but the actress playing the cheetah-girl could. It turned out that the horse hated men.
  • Lancelot in the episode named after him does this on Merlin just before he kills the griffin.
  • Parodied during the credits of the first season of Blackadder. After a montage of Blackadder riding his horse swiftly across the countryside to dramatic music, the horse rears up... and Blackadder falls off.
  • Get Smart. The same gag is used at the end of the episode riffing The Prisoner of Zenda, involving Max of course.
  • Power Rangers Samurai: Jayden's conjured horse when he rides in to take charge of his team in "Origins".
  • Angel. Holtz makes a dramatic entrance in a flashback to Rome 1771. Likely it was the presence of evil vampire Angelus that caused the horse to rear.


  • The G1 My Little Pony pegasus "Firefly" is one of few ponies posed in a rampant position.

Video Games

  • In Shadow of the Colossus, you can make the protagonist's horse do this, and with practice you can use it to get the horse right into a gallop.
  • You can do almost the same thing in The Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess.
    • Epona pulls it off completely in one cutscene. After Link has defeated an opponent in a joust setting, Epona rears up on her hind legs in a Victory Pose, with Link brandishing his sword and flames leaping in the background.
    • There's a moment which should be cliche, but somehow isn't, where Ganondorf, the true Big Bad and the Foil to Link, rears up on his horse surrounded by fire in contrast to Link with Epona in the sunset.
    • Happens as well on the title screen from Ocarina of Time.
  • In Assassin's Creed, you can get your horse to rear as well. Makes for some truly impressive shots when doing it on the bluffs overlooking Jerusalem...
  • Pegasus is a ridiculously useful creature in Scribblenauts. He also rears sometimes. It's possible from time to time for him to rear just as you grab the Starite, making for an extremely awesome end scene.
  • This happens in some of the critical hit animations in the Fire Emblem series. Fridge Logic ensues when you realize that even more damage could be done if the horse reared and pummeled the opponent in the middle of the attack, rather than the beginning.
    • Bizarrely, even pegasi (i.e. flying horses) do this sometimes.
  • Final Fantasy XIII: Lightning's Eidolon transforms into a horse, which does this in a recently released official image without a saddle or reins (possible with strong legs and good balance, but in Lightning's case it's more likely that she's using her gravity manipulation powers).
  • Can be done in Red Dead Redemption. Try doing it while the camera is facing the sunrise/sunset.

Western Animation

  • My Little Pony Friendship Is Magic: Twilight Sparkle obliges Spike by doing this when they go off to rescue Rarity. The ponies sometimes rear without a rider (it's not like they usually have one) as a kind of stock gesture, but they're so diminutive that it tends to look more cute than impressive.
    • During the Season 1 finale "Best Night Ever", Fluttershy goes a little off in the head and starts Chewing the Scenery...
  • The New Adventures of Winnie the Pooh: In "Paw and Order", Winnie-the-Pooh as the Masked Bear tries to do a Zorro-style dramatic rear with Eeyore twice. On the first go he falls off. The second time he pulls it off, but then falls off almost immediately afterwards as Eeyore walks away.

Real Life

  • The rearing white horse on red (though he looks more like he's about to kung fu some mother into next week), the arms and flag of the State of Lower Saxony in Germany, and of Westphalia (nowadays part of North Rhine-Westphalia).
  • There is a statue of a horse in this pose atop the scoreboard at INVESCO Field, home of the Denver Broncos.
  • In Washington, D.C., stands a statue of Andrew Jackson upon a rearing horse. The popular wisdom of the time was that such a statue -- balancing solely upon the horse's hind legs -- could not possibly be stable, and it's said that people used to take bets as to when it would finally collapse.
    • It is a generally held belief that the number of legs on the ground in an equestrian statue symbolize the way the rider died: one leg up meant the rider was wounded in battle, both front legs up meant he died in battle, all four legs down means he died of non-battle related causes. Not all statues follow this convention, such as the Jackson example above.
    • And in fact any that do follow this 'convention' are coincidental - as the story is completely unsubstantiated.
  • Spanish Riding School in Vienna trains horses and riders to do awesome tricks like this.
  • The Norfolk Southern Railway's locomotives are painted with the silhouette of a rearing horse on the front ends. Their corporate logo is also a silhouette of a horse's head next to the letters: NS. (This logo is usually seen painted on locomotives and vehicles they own.)
  • Artwork depicting a general or head-of-state on a rearing horse was a symbol of power in the 17th century. The most famous example is perhaps this painting of Napoleon Bonaparte.


  1. Please note that there is a difference between an actual rear and several of the dressage moves known as the Airs Above the Ground. One is on command, one is not.
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.